- Snapchat launched a machine learning-powered Stories in Search product for its Our Story feature, according to a company blog post. Our Stories are user-submitted slideshows and video around notable events like the Super Bowl that are aggregated into a single story on the main Snapchat page.
- Previously, Our Stories were curated by an internal team at Snap who’ve now become overwhelmed by the growing number of submissions to the feature. Stories in Search helps automate the process, tapping machine learning technology to analyze text and visuals that are a good fit for a particular story and then create tags to make them searchable.
- Some Our Stories will still be made professionally by Snap, but the new tool makes it more viable to build a story around smaller events like a local basketball game. Over 1 million stories are already searchable on Snapchat, though the product has only rolled out in select cities. A Snap spokesperson told TechCrunch that Snaps submitted to Our Stories can last anywhere from less than a day to a few months based on the volume of submissions, breaking with the app's tradition of having content disappear after 24 hours.
Stories in Search is one of the first big developments for Snapchat since parent company Snap held its IPO at the beginning of last month, and the move shows the app trying to get on a more even keel with other platforms in cataloging content and making it easily discoverable. A lack of concrete search tools has long frustrated marketers on Snapchat — as have stories' ephemeral shelf life of 24 hours — so the new product should be a welcome addition.
Snap only introduced a universal search bar for Snapchat at the beginning of the year, making it easier to find and navigate specific stories or pages. Though no official plans have been laid out, paid search is one area where Snap might continue to build out these products to make them more marketer-friendly in the future. Search could also provide deeper insight into what is resonating with Snapchat useres.
Stories in Search might also open up Our Stories' potential for SMBs and local businesses. To date, advertising around Our Stories has been largely limited to major marketing events like the Super Bowl or — to use a more recent example — WrestleMania, where spots can command hefty price tags and typically only showcase big-name brands (in Wrestlemania's case, Snickers). With more Our Stories centered on small or hyper-localized events, there's more opportunity for smaller marketers to get in on the action and target niche audiences.
One issue Snap might run into is offensive content. Many advertisers are still seeing their Snapchat ads appear next to material featuring things like nudity, and much of machine learning technology is in its early days, failing to either pick up on or properly judge what's inappropriate for brands.